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Archive for May, 2018

How to nurture your child’s mental health

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You can’t protect your kids from stress and difficult times. But you can help them develop good self-esteem and give them the tools to cope with adversity in a healthy manner.

As parents, we want our kids to be happy. But no matter how hard we try, we can’t guarantee their happiness. What we can do, however, is help them build a strong foundation for lifelong mental health.

To support good mental health, parents can help kids feel good about themselves, develop healthy strategies for coping with difficult times and strive for physical health. Parents should also be able to recognize the signs of more serious mental health problems—and know where to go for help.

Building Self-esteem

Kids with good self-esteem are happier, says Jane Meschan Foy, MD, FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who served on the Mental Health Leadership Work Group and is a professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “They are also less subject to peer pressure and able to make better decisions under stress.”

To help children build self-esteem, parents can:

Offer sincere encouragement and praise.
It’s important to acknowledge kids’ efforts—not just their accomplishments. Be descriptive in your feedback—for example: “Good job turning your book report in on time. You included a lot of great details about the main character.” Try to avoid vague feedback, like: “You’re so smart!” or “You’re terrific!”

Give Kids age-appropriate responsibilities.
Help children develop a sense of purpose and contribution by giving them age-appropriate tasks that matter. Then, let them do the job without your constant supervision.

Let them know they belong.
Every child needs one-on-one time with parents, Dr. Foy says. This should be a time when phones, TVs and computers are shut off.

“Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, it should be protected and should never be subject to discipline,” she says.

Let the child decide, within reason, what he or she would like to do during that time—such as reading, singing, playing a game or just talking.

Promoting Resilience

Resilience is a key component of overall mental health, according to the AAP.

“We can’t give our children perfect childhoods, but we can help them learn from stress and loss,” Dr. Foy says. “Most children will experience some sort of loss during childhood. Many experience multiple losses—moving, divorce, deployment of a parent, death of a grandparent or loved one, or change of school.”

Each child responds differently to stress and trauma, but all kids can benefit from certain tools, such as:

Good Communication Skills
“Help children from a very early age put emotions into language and to use language to reach out to others,” Dr. Foy says. By being a good role model, you can help kids learn how to express their own needs—and to respond kindly to the needs of others.

Good Relationships
“It’s important that kids have a social network they can rely on,” Dr. Foy says. Help kids build relationships early by teaching them how to help, how to take turns, how to win and lose graciously and how to accept responsibility.

Methods for Managing Stress
For example, teach kids ways to relax, such as stretching, exercise and spending time in nature.

A Positive Outlook
“Parents can help children feel appreciative of the good things in life,” Dr. Foy says. “Draw attention to positive things about life.” A gratitude journal is a good tool, for example. For some people, prayer can also express appreciation, she says.

Minding the Body
Mental health requires a healthy body. Kids need sufficient sleep, a balanced diet and regular exercise.

“Sleep is very critical to mental health,” Dr. Foy says. “Children who are sleep-deprived may have symptoms of emotional disturbance.”

Help kids get the sleep they need by establishing a regular bedtime routine. And make sure kids use beds for sleeping only—not for homework or texting. If they have their own cellphones, have them give you their phones at a set time every night to ensure that they aren’t on them all night.

A healthful diet and daily exercise are also important to mental health, in part because they help kids maintain a healthy weight. “Being overweight is associated with lower self-esteem and more stress,” Dr. Foy says.

All children have to cope with challenges. Parents need to monitor their child’s reaction to problems and know when to seek help.

“Children will vent in different ways,” Dr. Foy says. “Some vent through misbehavior and acting out. Some internalize and become more anxious or dependent or cautious.”

Often these behaviors will pass as the child works through the difficult situation. Talking with your child and listening to his or her concerns and fears may help. But sometimes outside help is needed.

“If a child settles into a pattern of being irritable or sad most days, withdrawing from friends, or struggling academically, these could be signs that a child is in trouble,” Dr. Foy says. If problems persist, talk with your child’s doctor.

What does endometriosis mean for you?

by Thomas Fromuth, MD, from UPMC Pinnacle Lititz and Ob-Gyn of Lancaster

If you are like most women, you are probably thinking “endo what?” About 10 percent of reproductive-age women suffer with this potentially debilitating disease. In fact, many famous women have or had endometriosis, including Lena Dunham, Marilyn Monroe and Susan Sarandon. Worldwide there are 176 million women suffering and yet… very few people know what it is.

What is endometriosis?

The best way to think of endometriosis is as a disease that causes killer cramps in women. Not just your normal menstrual cramps. These cramps are so bad you have to lay on the bathroom floor or on your sofa immobilized. Motrin, Aleve, Midol do not touch the pain. Worst, no one believes your pain could be that bad. They think you are overreacting or faking it, saying “Suck it up! It’s just part of being a woman.” If that is not all bad enough, you can also have heavy and prolonged menses, pain between periods, painful intercourse, and infertility. You feel isolated and alone because nobody understands and nobody believes you…sometimes not even your doctor. 

Is this you? If so, you don’t have to suffer. There is hope.

The Facts of Endometriosis

Before I get into the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, here are some basic facts. They’ll give you a better understanding of the disease.

  • Endometriosis is a disease where cells like those that line the uterus grow on tissues and organs outside the uterus, usually in the abdomen but elsewhere too.
  • It affects 1 in 10 women worldwide.
  • It affects women during childbearing age (from first period until menopause).
  • There is no one clear cause of endometriosis, but genetics is involved. If your mother had endometriosis, you are six times more likely to have the disease.
  • Symptoms typically begin during puberty but can start later.
  • There is an average of a 10-year delay in diagnosing endometriosis.
  • Thirty to forty percent of women with endometriosis experience infertility.
  • Endometriosis affects all races and economic classes.
  • There is no cure for endometriosis. But there is help, sometimes with medications and surgery.
  • Hysterectomy with removal of the ovaries is NOT the cure for endometriosis.

How does endometriosis affect you?

Endometriosis negatively affects a woman’s life in substantial ways. Because of this pain, you experience 38 percent more work productivity loss then those women without it. Non-work-related activities, such as housework, exercising, studying, shopping and childcare, can also be significantly impaired by its painful symptoms. Painful intercourse can cause you to not only not enjoy sex, but also to avoid sex. This often leads to difficult relationship issues.

Adolescent girls may not get help because people so rarely believed them when they complain of pain. Women who have had children often have their endometriosis misdiagnosed because they were not infertile.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis is diagnosed by your doctor in a few different ways. Tests to check for physical symptoms of it include:

  • Listening – a physician with a good understanding of endometriosis will listen to your symptoms. He or she can tell a lot about whether you may be experiencing endometriosis or another condition.
  • Pelvic exam – your doctor manually feels areas in your pelvis for abnormalities like cysts or scars. This test will not directly determine whether you have endometriosis, but it can identify cysts associated with the disease.
  • Ultrasound – an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound may be ordered. This test takes images of your reproductive organs. Although this test will not directly determine whether you have endometriosis, it can identify cysts associated with the disease.
  • Laparoscopy – although medical management is typically recommended first, laparoscopy is another diagnostic tool. While under general anesthesia, your doctor will make a small incision by your navel. They will then insert the laparoscope to look for endometrial tissue outside of your uterus. They may take a biopsy to test the tissue. Laparoscopy can provide information about the location, extent and size of your endometrial tissue.

How is endometriosis treated?

Treatment of endometriosis can vary from medications to surgery. The approach you and your doctor choose will depend on the severity of your symptoms. These treatment options include:

  • Pain medications
  • Hormone therapy
  • Conservative surgery to remove the excess endometrial tissue
  • Hysterectomy (in extreme cases) along with removal of any endometriosis if present

Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis. But treatment options are available to help manage your symptoms.

If you or someone you know have these symptoms, please talk to your ob-gyn or your primary care provider. See a complete list of our ob-gyn providers online

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